Tuesday, February 19, 2019

New Book: Between Before and After by Maureen Doyle McQuerry

Between Before and After by Maureen Doyle McQuerry was released this month. This one stands out due to the setting and the fairy tale involved--the Spanish Flu Epidemic in 1918 and Hansel and Gretel.

Book description:

“The carnage began with the roses. She hacked at their ruffled blooms until they dropped into monstrous drifts of red on the parched yellow lawn … Only two things kept my mother grounded to us: my uncle Stephen and stories.”

Fourteen-year-old Molly worries about school, friends, and her parents’ failed marriage, but mostly about her mother’s growing depression. Molly knows her mother is nursing a carefully-kept secret. A writer with an obsession for other people’s life stories, Elaine Donnelly is the poster child of repressed emotions.

Molly spends her California summer alternately watching out for her little brother Angus and tip-toeing around her mother’s raw feelings. Molly needs her mother more than ever, but Elaine shuts herself off from real human connections and buries herself in the lives and deaths of the strangers she writes about. When Uncle Stephen is pressed into the limelight because of his miracle cure of a young man, Elaine can no longer hide behind other people’s stories. And as Molly digs into her mother’s past, she finds a secret hidden in her mother’s dresser that may be the key to unlocking a family mystery dating to 1918 New York—a secret that could destroy or save their future.

Told in dual narratives between 1918 New York City and 1955 San Jose, California, Between Before and After, by award-winning author Maureen McQuerry, explores the nature of family secrets, resiliency, and redemption. This is an historical coming-of-age Young Adult story about the complex bonds between mothers and daughters.

A great article about the book can be read at This Tri-City author’s family loss to Spanish flu inspired her new young adult novel by Sara Schilling.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Fairy Tale Sticky Page Flags: Little Red Riding Hood and Little Mermaid

While most of my reading is now done digitally, my folklore library is still primarily paper. And I often need to mark pages to return to notes and references. The usual flags, post-its, junk mail, etc. serve as my usual bookmarks, but I admit I couldn't resist these particular page flags which are the best way to mark research with a low paper profile as well as stickiness. I admit, I like the Fairy Tale Collection Sticky Flags for obvious reasons. It's fun to have Little Red Riding Hood represented and Little Mermaid is fine, too. I would have loved some Beauty and the Beast, of course, but I'm not complaining. These are just fun no matter what.


I was even more excited by the Romance Collection Sticky Flags and the Young Ladies Collection Sticky Flags. Because I am very typical with my classics books adorations. Which means I still regularly reread Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Anne of Green Gables and Little Women. (All of those book links go to annotated versions that I actually own. Are you surprised I'd like annotated versions? Probably not.)

These were correctly bundled together for me, even if Austen and Bronte would disagree on the pairing themselves. Side note, these books still hold up for me through decades of rereading. So many books don't. Little Women has suffered the most of the four for me but I still enjoy it despite a few pangs and I admire Louisa May Alcott for countless reasons, too. I've been rereading some other teenaged favorites lately. Daddy-Long-Legs entertained me greatly a few weeks ago. But a few years ago, Rebecca went on my never again pile.

Fortunately, I am personally able to resist the Love Story Collection Sticky Flags which feature Wuthering Heights and Romeo and Juliet. I'd call that the tragic, unhealthy love collection myself. No thanks. These titles have never been on my regular comfort reread piles. They make Jane Eyre and Rochester look healthy.

You can also see the Enchanted Sea Mermaid Collection Sticky Flags which is really mermaids and ocean critters. There is also the Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland Storybook Collection Sticky Flags if you're a fan of these stories.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Cinderella Pudding Recipe

As so often happens, this came to me through an unusual path. I am not a baker. I cook quite competently but the science of baking has always been more of a nuisance than joy to me. Heresy to some of my friends and family who love to bake, but that's me. I hate to follow recipes and baking really requires more exact measuring than I like to be beholden to.

To cover that lack, I have what I consider my "fake out" dessert making stand-by for the times when I must produce a dessert without the help of my favorite bakeries. It's quite simple but impressive. I use a Maryann cake pan.

I use a cake box mix and then take inspiration from the chosen cake mix flavor (I usually choose white, chocolate or carrot) to fill the well that the cake pan leaves behind. Pudding, jams, sauces, fruit, cookies, candy--the possibilities are endless and pretty much always a hit. And the well when filled with pudding type mix keeps the cake moist in the fridge for leftovers, too, rather a simple version of a poke cake. Win, win, win. Plus it tastes and looks like I did something special. Nope. I just own a wonderful cake pan and quite frankly filling that well is MUCH easier than frosting a cake and the presentation is gorgeous. I pretend to be a baker but I am anything but. And the family likes it enough that they still ask me to bring desserts when they know they will either get a version of a Maryann cake depending on the seasonal inspiration or a Publix bakery offering. Cause I do like cakes overall, I just don't want to actually make one from scratch. See some Maryann cake pictures to see what I mean at Pinterest.

So when people see these cakes they all want to know about the cake pan. One of my besties, Valerie, is a baker extraordinaire and she uses the pan with from scratch recipes that are divine but beyond my desire or skill level. We've both been fascinated by the pan's history since I discovered it several years ago--and it is pretty much the only time I introduced something baking related to Valerie's wide range of knowledge and skill. The pan has gone in and out of production since I bought my first one years ago but seems to have made a steady resurgence of late. Valerie recently discovered an antique version and was determined to learn its history when she realized its history was much longer than expected.

She didn't learn much, but along the way, she found this recipe for a Maryann style cake with a fitting title for the SurLaLune blog. I was tickled by it because I haven't read the word "syllabub" in all too long I realized. A very English recipe but found in Florida in 1914 since pudding as a synonym for dessert (a pudding that isn't American pudding a la tapioca or such) is even rarer these days, but perhaps more common than I realized in the United States in 1914. 

Source: The Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Florida, United States of America) · 30 Oct 1914, Fri · Page 13

If you're curious, Val says:

I can't find out who Mary Ann was! But I did discover that women had been making this type of cake but having to scoop out the extra cake. The pan seems to have come on the scene in 1921.

As for me, scooping out cake just means you get a preview that's even better than licking the mixing spoon. Clever bakers getting to make their cake and eat it, too!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Beauty and the East - A Short Film by Dhruv Uday Singh

Content Warning: Strong Language

The above film has strong language which I usually avoid sharing since SurLaLune is for all ages.

The gist of the film is what Belle's reaction is when the beast is disenchanted and ends up being Indian--and a different race from her--not the blonde white prince she imagined.

The film provides a good opportunity to explore expectations when reading or watching fairy tales. Or discuss how much appearance fuels love and its expectations. Many of the bases are covered here of previous discussions I've read, witnessed, etc. over the years of disenchanted princes. Even the fact that many would be happier with the Beast instead no matter what his human appearance is! "Change him back!" I've heard people demand. This adds an additional spin to that desire.

My favorite line: “Belle, the whole time you’ve known me, I’ve been a very hairy brown guy. I didn’t transform from a polar bear or a … a @#*&@ swan!”

The film's primary info:

A short film about the intersection of race, gender, and fairytale dog-men.

Written, Edited, and Directed by Dhruv Uday Singh
with Contributions by Jason M. Palmer

Produced by Tayler Vee Robinson

Cate Scott Campbell as Belle
Dhruv Uday Singh as the Prince

Cardi B, Fashion and Fairy Tales with Harper's Bazaar

The March 2019 issue of Harper’s Bazaar magazine features Cardi B in some fairy tale and folklore inspired settings. We have Rapunzel, Cinderella, Sword in the Stone (King Arthur) and a fire breathing dragon apparently. Cardi B was photographed by Mariano Vivanco and styled by fashion editor Kollin Carter.

You can read the accompanying story "Cardi B Opens Up About Her 'Rags to Riches' Cinderella Story" on the magazine's website.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Bargain Ebook: A Thousand Beginnings and Endings

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, an anthology of tales inspired by the folklore and mythology of East and South Asia, is on sale for a limited time for $1.99 in ebook format. This was released over the summer and has been well-reviewed.

Book description:

Star-crossed lovers, meddling immortals, feigned identities, battles of wits, and dire warnings: these are the stuff of fairy tale, myth, and folklore that have drawn us in for centuries.

Fifteen bestselling and acclaimed authors reimagine the folklore and mythology of East and South Asia in short stories that are by turns enchanting, heartbreaking, romantic, and passionate.

Compiled by We Need Diverse Books’s Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman, the authors included in this exquisite collection are: RenĂ©e Ahdieh, Sona Charaipotra, Preeti Chhibber, Roshani Chokshi, Aliette de Bodard, Melissa de la Cruz, Julie Kagawa, Rahul Kanakia, Lori M. Lee, E. C. Myers, Cindy Pon, Aisha Saeed, Shveta Thakrar, and Alyssa Wong.

A mountain loses her heart. Two sisters transform into birds to escape captivity. A young man learns the true meaning of sacrifice. A young woman takes up her mother’s mantle and leads the dead to their final resting place.

From fantasy to science fiction to contemporary, from romance to tales of revenge, these stories will beguile readers from start to finish. For fans of Neil Gaiman’s Unnatural Creatures and Ameriie’s New York Times–bestselling Because You Love to Hate Me.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Once Upon a Brick: Exclusive Lego Ideas Pop-Up Book Set

Once Upon a Brick: Exclusive Lego Ideas Pop-Up Book Set is available through the Lego store only or through large mark-up by resellers. A fun concept of a Lego set and a definite gift for Lego Fairy Tale fans. I don't think its coincidence that the two fairy tales represented here--Little Red Riding Hood and Jack and the Beanstalk--are popular but don't have major licensing versions from Disney.

Description from Lego:

Build, play and display the classic fairy tales Little Red Riding Hood and Jack and the Beanstalk with LEGO® Ideas 21315 Pop-up Book! This first-ever buildable pop-up book made from LEGO bricks opens to reveal the famous scene of grandmother’s forest cottage featuring opening door, bed and kitchen area. Recreate the scene when Little Red Riding Hood meets the wolf or swap out grandmother's cottage for the scene of the giant's castle in the clouds. This collectible toy features enough bricks to build both scenes or you can even build a scene of your own and makes a perfect creative gift. This LEGO set includes a booklet with a short history of pop-up books, a condensed history of each fairy tale in the set, as well as information about its fan designers and LEGO designers.

  • Includes 4 new-for-November-2018 LEGO® minifigures: Little Red Riding Hood, Grandmother, the Wolf, and the Giant. Also includes 1 new-for-November-2018 microfigure: Jack.
  • First pop-up book in LEGO® history features 2 different LEGO fairy tale stories: Little Red Riding Hood and Jack and the Beanstalk.
  • Build and display or recreate your own stories from 2 classic fairy tales with this imagination toy.
  • This LEGO® Ideas set features enough bricks to build both fairy tales in the set or you can even build your own scene.
  • Includes a booklet featuring building instructions, a brief history of pop-up books, a short history of the 2 fairy tales in the set, plus information about this amazing classic fairy tale’s fan designers and LEGO® designers.
  • Pop-up book measures over 7” (20cm) long and 5” (13cm) wide when closed, and over 11” (28cm) wide when open.

TODAY ONLY: Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West for $2.99

Kingdom of Ash and Briars: A Nissera Novel (The Nissera Chronicles Book 1) by Hannah West is on sale for the first time today only for $2.99. The sequel--Realm of Ruins--will be released in a few weeks so this is to promote that release.

Book description:

A stunning fantasy inspired by familiar fairytales, complete with cursed princesses, thieves-turned-soldiers, and an orphan girl transformed into an immortal, shapeshifting heroine. The Nissera Chronicles start here . . .

"One of the best books I've ever read."—C.J. Redwine, New York Times best-selling author of The Shadow Queen

* "A world both terrifying and wonderful."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Welcome to Nissera, land of three kingdoms and home to spectacular magic.

Bristal, a sixteen-year-old kitchen maid, finds herself in a gritty fairy tale gone wrong when she discovers she has elicromancer magic in her blood. Elicromancers are an ancient breed of immortal people, but only two remain in Nissera after a bloody civil war. Bristal joins their ranks without knowing that one of them has a dark secret . . . Tamarice is plotting a quest to overthrow the realm's nobility and take charge herself. Together, Bristal and Brack must guard the three kingdoms of Nissera against Tamarice's black elicromancy. There are princesses to protect, royal alliances to forge, and fierce monsters to battle—all with the hope of preserving peace.

With clever homages to Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, Hannah West makes a fast-paced, exciting, and wholly original debut. The Nissera Chronicles continue with Fields of Fire, a short story set against the events of Kingdom of Ash and Briars, and Realm of Ruins, a gripping companion novel.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Bargain Ebook: Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

Daughter of the Forest: Book One of the Sevenwaters Trilogy by Juliet Marillier is on sale for a limited time in ebook format for $2.99.

Hard to believe this book is now 18 years old but it has become a fantasy modern classic. I bought it as a new book in hardcover when it was released, excited to read a book inspired by the Six Swans/Wild Swans/etc. fairy tale. It did not disappoint and remains a favorite of mine by Marillier who has had a successful career since this was published.

Book description:

Juliet Marillier is a rare talent, a writer who can imbue her characters and her story with such warmth, such heart, that no reader can come away from her work untouched. Daughter of the Forest is a testimony to that talent, a first novel and the beginning of a trilogy like no other: a mixture of history and fantasy, myth and magic, legend and love.

Lord Colum of Sevenwaters is blessed with six sons: Liam, a natural leader; Diarmid, with his passion for adventure; twins Cormack and Conor, each with a different calling; rebellious Finbar, grown old before his time by his gift of the Sight; and the young, compassionate Padriac.

But it is Sorcha, the seventh child and only daughter, who alone is destined to defend her family and protect her land from the Britons and the clan known as Northwoods. For her father has been bewitched, and her brothers bound by a spell that only Sorcha can lift.

To reclaim the lives of her brothers, Sorcha leaves the only safe place she has ever known, and embarks on a journey filled with pain, loss, and terror.

When she is kidnapped by enemy forces and taken to a foreign land, it seems that there will be no way for her to break the spell that condemns all that she loves. But magic knows no boundaries, and Sorcha will have to choose between the life she has always known and a love that comes only once.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

TODAY ONLY: Italian Folktales by Italo Calvino for $2.99

TODAY ONLY: Italian Folktales by Italo Calvino is on sale in ebook format for $2.99. Usually in the $10 range.

If you don't have this get it. Really. Chock full of lovely Italian folklore retellings. Lots of favorites in "newish" skins for many readers.

Book description:

One of the New York Times’s Ten Best Books of the Year: These traditional stories of Italy, retold by a literary master, are “a treasure” (Los Angeles Times).

Filled with kings and peasants, saints and ogres—as well as some quite extraordinary plants and animals—these two hundred tales bring to life Italy’s folklore, sometimes with earthy humor, sometimes with noble mystery, and sometimes with the playfulness of sheer nonsense.

Selected and retold by one of the country’s greatest literary icons, “this collection stands with the finest folktale collections anywhere” (The New York Times Book Review).

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Fairy Tale Romances Bundle by Melanie Dickerson for $1.99

A bundle of fairy tale titles, Fairy Tale Romance Collection: The Healer’s Apprentice, The Merchant’s Daughter, The Fairest Beauty, The Captive Maiden, The Princess Spy (Fairy Tale Romance Series) by Melanie Dickerson, is on sale for $1.99. Not sure how long the sale will last, but this is a good price. Usually the individual titles go on sale for $1.99 each.

Book description:

Romance, intrigue, and danger abound in this five-book bind-up of Melanie Dickerson’s bestselling fairy-tale retellings.

The Healer’s Apprentice: Rose has been appointed as a healer’s apprentice at Hagenheim Castle, and when Lord Hamlin—the future duke—is injured, it is Rose who tends to him. As she works to heal his wound, she begins to fall in love, and wonders if he feels the same. But Lord Hamlin is betrothed to a mysterious young woman in hiding. As Rose’s life spins toward confusion, she must take the first steps on a journey to discover her own destiny.

The Merchant’s Daughter: Annabel is trapped in indentured servitude to Lord Ranulf, a recluse who is rumored to be both terrifying and beastly. She soon finds he is actually very kind and caring, and the two strike up a friendship that could soon become more. Then Annabel becomes involved in a situation that could possibly lead to Ranulf’s demise.

The Fairest Beauty: Sophie desperately wants to get away from her stepmother’s jealousy, and receives her chance when Gabe arrives from Hagenheim Castle to rescue her, claiming she is betrothed to his older brother. Though romance is impossible--she is his brother’s future wife, and Gabe himself is betrothed to someone else--the pair flee to the Cottage of the Seven to find help. Before long both must not only protect each other from the dangers around them, they must also protect their hearts.

The Captive Maiden: When Gisela learns the duke’s son, Valten--the boy she has daydreamed about for years--is throwing a ball in hopes of finding a wife, she vows to find a way to attend, even if it’s only for a taste of a life she’ll never have. To her surprise, she catches Valten’s eye. Though he is rough around the edges, Gisela finds Valten is everything she hoped he would be. But other forces are bent on keeping the two from falling further in love, putting Gisela in more danger than she ever imagined.

The Princess Spy: Margaretha has always been a romantic, and hopes her newest suitor, Lord Claybrook, is destined to be her one true love. But then an injured man is brought to Hagenheim Castle, claiming to be an English lord who was attacked by Claybrook and left for dead. And only Margaretha--one of the few who speaks his language--understands the wild story. It is up to her to save her father, Colin, and Hagenheim itself from Claybrook’s wicked plot.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Soul Catchers by Carrie Pulkinen

Soul Catchers by Carrie Pulkinen is on sale for $1.99 for the ebook edition. This book draws inspiration from Little Red Riding Hood.

Book description:

Experience the first Kindle Scout Winner of 2018. An exciting dystopian fantasy full of magic, suspense, love, and adventure.

Whoever kills the wolf becomes the wolf...

Wren Lewis shouldn't be alive. Magic is illegal, making her mere existence a crime, and if the government ever discovers the truth about her powers, she'll be killed on the spot. Or worse. But when she uses her magic to kill a wolf that's attacking her mom, her abilities are exposed and the animal's evil spirit possesses her. Unable to control the beast inside her, she flees the city in search of a cure before the wolf spirit consumes her soul, turning her into a murderous monster permanently.

"Soul Catchers will catch your attention!" -New York Times Bestselling Author C.C. Hunter

"A very interesting take on shifters...I would recommend this to fans of wolves, shifters, fantasy, magic, and Little Red Riding Hood." -YA Books Central Reviewer